Aurilia a free agent, future uncertain

Aurilia a free agent, future uncertain

CINCINNATI -- Rich Aurilia declined to exercise his $2 million mutual option to return to the Reds on Tuesday, but it does not necessarily mean the veteran infielder has played his last game for Cincinnati.

Aurilia, who is now a free agent, will be free to negotiate with every club -- including the Reds. Aurilia's agent, Barry Axelrod, and Cincinnati general manager Wayne Krivsky both said talks on a new contract are likely to continue. The Reds hold exclusive negotiating rights with all of their free agents until Nov. 11.

The buyout price on Aurilia's option was $200,000.

"This isn't a big deal," Krivsky said Tuesday night. "It's a procedural move, and no one should get bent out of shape. He wants to explore all of his alternatives and it doesn't eliminate him from returning to the Reds for 2007. His agent and I have an understanding about how we'll proceed. They want to look around, but at the same time, they're not opposed to returning if the terms are mutually agreeable."

Aurilia batted .300 with 23 home runs and 70 RBIs in 122 games, including 105 starts among all four infield positions. The 35-year-old would like to see if another team might have an everyday job for him at one position before he makes a decision.

"In order to gauge the interest in Richie, we had to clear the option," Axelrod said. "By no means are we cutting ties in any way with the Reds. Without declining the option, we wouldn't know if there's any interest."

The scenario is not unlike the one Aurilia and the Reds went through last winter. After the 2005 season, he declined a mutual option before eventually signing a one-year, $1.3 million deal on Jan. 8 after he was assured of getting significant playing time by manager Jerry Narron.

Several other Reds have filed to become free agents, including relievers Eddie Guardado, Scott Schoeneweis and Ryan Franklin and outfielder Todd Hollandsworth.

Reliever David Weathers, shortstop Royce Clayton and pitcher Jason Johnson filed for free agency on Saturday. There have been some talks already between Krivsky and Weathers' agent, Jeff Borris.

Lefty reliever Kent Mercker is only remaining eligible Reds player that has yet to file as a free agent.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.